Contributed by Joe Montero
The young American students standing up against the ongoing epidemic of mass shootings in the United States are inspiring the nation and the world.
For the rest of the world it is bewildering how a nation that considers itself civilised can accept the manipulation of the legacy of the War of Independence, after which the right of citizens to defend themselves against aggression was written into the constitution, as a vehicle to make it alright for anyone to have and use weapons that are obviously designed for war.
But on the wake of the latest shooting in a Parkland High school in Florida, something new has happened. Young survivors have raised their voices. Tired of the cycle of condolences and prayers for the dead, talk about doing something to stop the killing and then nothing happening, they have had enough and are creating movement to make the difference. What they are in fact saying is that they have lost trust in their political leaders and have come to realise that they must rely on their own efforts. Parents and teachers are backing the students’ actions.
Student David Hogg became the face of the new movement, after a video clip he recorded, while he and other students were hiding from the shooter in a classroom. The 17 -year old, appealed for something to be done about gun control and said the situation showed that the country was broken. The impact was immediate and the video went viral.
Students from Parkland and other schools around the country are organising rallies and other actions, and these are now dogging politicians and officials wherever they go.
It is having an impact. So much so that is has pushed the usual suspects into the defensive. Where once there was a lot to say about the right of Americans to defend themselves with guns, there are now claims about fake news and that students calling for action on guns are paid actors.
A major proponent of these accusation prominent musician and board member of the NRA, Ted Nugent. Notice that the NRA has not opposed his accusations. This is not the first time that Nugent has claimed a conspiracy and not the first time that the NRA has shown its complicity with its silence.
The NRA is not merely an association of gun owners, but a well connected political organisation that servers as a front for the most hard-line part of the Republican political base. It is well oiled with money and this is used to pay a long list of politicians, huge sums to deny any restriction of gun ownership laws. Donald Trump election campaign is reported to have received at least $30 million.
The new student is focusing on the money trail and is gearing to campaign against politicians who accept payment from the NRA.
Gun control is only one part of the problem. There is a legitimate argument for some to carry arms that are appropriate to their needs and it is true that those seeking to use them for criminal activity and mas shootings can still acquire illegal ones.
When mass shooting become a regular occurrence, there is something fundamentally wrong. It goes much further than the matter of gun laws. This is a sick society. In David Hogg’s words, the country is broken. Unless this paid attention to and the sickness overcome, mass murder will continue to be a reality of American life.
Perhaps the problem has something to do with a culture that champions a mix of might is right, that personal greed as a good thing, the pursuit of personal wealth and fame as the definition of success in life. Americans are generally caring and generous people. But there is also the highly commercialised Hollywood style culture, where everything and everyone is a commodity for sale, is disposable and life is cheap. Mix this with an abysmal health care system that fails those with mental health issues and a thoroughly corrupt political infrastructure, where money buys votes, something has got to give.
Unless these matters are addressed, the cycle of killings will go on.
America’s students are making a start and providing the opportunity to find lasting solutions.
Florida students demand stricter gun control laws
Video from Global News